August 29, 2017

There are several really good books on orchestration. Samuel Adler's book sits next to my workstation and I refer to it often as a reference. But for me, the best instruction comes from the study of how composers orchestrate their own music. Maurice Ravel, who is celeb...

August 28, 2017

After Bach, the composer I’ve spent the most time with is Claude Debussy. In fact, the first two arrangements I made for large brass ensemble in the 80’s were Fugue in g minor (Bach) and Girl with the Flaxen Hair (Debussy). I’ve revisited the Debussy a number of times,...

August 27, 2017

Tortured play on words - sorry.

I've had the luxury of writing for some fantastic musicians who happened to play the euphonium. John Daley was principal trombone of the Denver / Colorado Symphony for close to 40 years, He was also one of my teachers for a brief, but glo...

August 26, 2017

Many years ago, I was walking past Bill Stanley’s trombone studio at CU Boulder and heard a most remarkable thing. I stuck my head in the partially open door and discovered he was listening to a piece from Offroad, a new solo CD by then associate principal trombone of...

August 25, 2017

Renaissance keyboard music is really fun to arrange. The simplicity of the music (well, at least some of it) lends itself to crafty solutions to make the music, dare I say it, more interesting than its original form.

I've orchestrated quite a few of these pieces now for...

August 24, 2017

There's nothing quite like a well voiced, well spaced, well balanced chord written for brass when played in tune. Great brass players produce a resonant sound that is full of fundamental and overtones. When all of that lines up, giddy audience satisfaction is guarantee...

August 23, 2017

The temptation when making a brass arrangement of late 19th & early 20th century marches is to take the road more traveled - to "arrange" these musical gems from the original band parts by simply eliminating the woodwind voices. The result often still sounds 'band-like...

August 16, 2017

Many years ago, my friend and colleague Bill Stanley (professor of trombone, University of Colorado at Boulder) pointed me towards an article that profoundly influenced my approach to playing, teaching, and even arranging. The Doctrine of Intent, written by Nashville S...

August 11, 2017

I wrote recently about starting with the bass line when beginning work on an arrangement. That is generally a true statement. However, there is another technique which can be useful when mapping out your arrangement.

Work from the obvious.

That is to say, once you have a...

August 8, 2017

For those that aren't familiar, Grainger frequently reworked his own compositions for instrumentations other than the original. Handel in the Strand was originally composed in 1912 as a piano trio (piano, violin & cello with optional viola). It was later reworked in 19...

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